Irish SMEs ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the future – Facebook survey

A survey reveals that despite enforced business closures, challenging restrictions and loss of revenue, 51% of Irish SMEs are feeling optimistic about the future of their business.

The Future of Business Survey, run by Facebook in collaboration with the World Bank and the OECD, surveyed 30,000 SMEs on the social media giant across 50 countries during Covid-19, including 179 Irish SMEs.

Among the countries surveyed, Ireland had one of the largest SME closure rates (58%) between January and May of this year. 

However 69% of these businesses closed as a result of public health guidance and 60% said the national plan for easing restrictions will be the main factor determining their ability to reopen. 

Among closed businesses globally, 54% said that they would start up again within three months, with Ireland reporting one of the highest proportions – 69% – here.

The survey also found that 52% of Irish SMEs reported a reduction in sales in May compared to the same month last year. Globally, this figure was higher with 62% of businesses reporting a reduction in sales, while in Italy this figure jumped to 75%.  

Almost six in 10 Irish businesses (59%) were in receipt of financial assistance at the time of the survey, compared to an average of 23% of businesses globally. 

But despite this assistance, 54% of Irish businesses expect cash flow to be a challenge in the next few months. 

Facebook said this was notably higher than some European counterparts and compares to 39% in Spain , 41% in the UK and 43% in France.

Today’s survey also revealed that a quarter of Irish operating businesses had to reduce their workforces as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Globally, just 36% of SMEs expect to have the same workers when they open again, with figures as low as 14% in the UK, 18% in Brazil and 28% in Ireland.  

Meanwhile, over 40% of Irish SMEs adapted to the pandemic by setting up a website or online business presence –  one of the highest figures globally. 

According to the survey, Irish businesses have also shown themselves to be among the most digitally savvy in Europe, with 65% now making more than a quarter of their sales online compared to just 37% in Italy and 31% in Germany. 

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